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An Energy Policy Americans Can Depend on

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September 2, 2005

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the Energy Conference report passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush earlier this month. The Energy Policy Act is a comprehensive, multi-faceted piece of legislation that finally came to fruition after five years of the combined efforts of House and Senate Republicans. In addition to the provisions I mentioned previously, there are several more provisions in the bill, including extended daylight saving time, an increased renewable fuels standard, and development of alternative power sources that will help promote greater energy conservation and efficiency.

The idea of daylight saving was first coined by Benjamin Franklin in an essay entitled An Economic Project, where he noted the amount of money people could save each year by observing daylight saving instead of burning candles late in the evening. Many years later, the Congress adopted legislation to standardize daylight saving time within the U.S. The Energy Policy Act extends daylight saving time two months to reduce energy consumption by the equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil each day. Studies indicate that extending daylight saving time from the first Sunday in March to the last Sunday in November will also lower crime and traffic fatalities and allow for more recreation time and increased economic activity.

This policy also creates a renewable fuels standard (RFS) which will increase the use of ethanol and biodiesel in the U.S. Agricultural products such as forestry biomass, livestock waste and agricultural commodities can be used in the manufacture of renewable fuels. Trees are an abundant resource, especially in Virginia where almost two-thirds of the state is forested, and can be converted into both paper and biofuels year-round. The implementation of a RFS by the paper industry alone could promote the production of over 2.4 billion gallons of ethanol, while at the same time producing paper and packaging products and ensuring that forest landowners have strong markets for timber.

At the same time, however, we must also ensure that we continue to have a reliable and affordable supply of feed for our livestock industry. The benefits of reduced reliance on foreign energy sources, stable energy prices, and new markets for agricultural products should not be replaced with a risk of increased input costs for livestock producers.

The Energy Policy Act also encourages the use of alternative power sources by launching an innovative program to enable hydrogen fuel cell cars to compete in the marketplace by 2020. The bill also authorizes $200 million for the "Clean Cities" program, which will provide grants to state and local governments to acquire alternative fueled vehicles.

While extending daylight saving time, increasing production and use of renewable fuels, and increasing the use of alternative power sources promotes greater energy conservation and efficiency, it also creates a reliable domestic energy policy that Americans can depend on.

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